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tv   Discussion on Islamic State and Al- Qaeda  CSPAN  December 5, 2015 5:37am-7:01am EST

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make a mark in the world, and they married them in spite of parental objections. she is a good example of that. i decided i had to find out more about her. >> sunday night on c-span q and a. >> security and foreign-policy analyst discussed the tactics and the rivalry between isis and al qaeda and how the u.s. should counter the threat of these groups. the discussion was hosted by the washington dc think tank new america. this is one hour 20 minutes.
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>> good morning. my name is jason france. i'm one of the authors on this report. the report was done originally in support to take a look at these strategic competition between al qaeda and the islamic state. the intent was to examine ways that al qaeda and isis are in competition with each other. we looked at the islamic state and al qaeda as revolutionary groups. it is not the only way to examine them. they are of course terrorist organizations, and in the case of the islamic state, because i state. both organizations have tried to fight against the world order, and particularly in the region. in this way, we have identified al qaeda as more of a traditional malice organization where they favor political preparation of areas that they intend to go into.
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they use violence, but it is not in support of political objectives. the violence comes second. this has been seen in a number of the public writings from the leaders. they feed off of the experiences and writings of che guevara, on how they put dominance towards violence, and politics through violence. excuse me for a second. further, we look at differences in their strategies within the construct, and how we examine it. we look at -- al qaeda has been going through a branding effort in the last two years where they have been trying to downplay their own role within their affiliate organizations across north africa and the middle east. contrasting that with isis' declaration of being an actual state, and their use of violence. the other aspect -- daveed is here. mr. fritz: don't go away. the ultimate d.c. power move is being late to your own launch. my apologies for this. it has been kind of a long week. i want to fundamentally give a
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shout out to jason, the team who worked on this. a phenomenal team. i want you to finish, and then i might say a thing or two. i apologize again for being late to my own launch event. mr. fritz: particularly putting the focus on politics, with violence supporting politics. they are trying to present themselves to the muslim population of the world as a more reasonable alternative to the islamic state. that is really about it. one last sentence, and then i will hand it over to you. mr. gartenstein-ross: to pick up on that, one concept that comes up a lot in my work is what i refer to as consensus areas. areas where virtual consensus, those of us operating the public
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sphere, about what particular events mean that end up being wrong. the arab spring ended up being the exact opposite. we see something that resembles a consensus area in this. my prediction is that in 2-3 years, one of the things we will be talking about is the fact that al qaeda is able to operate much more openly than it ever could before. you already see this in syria where al qaeda made itself almost impossible to attack. the reason being that they are so thoroughly embedded with rebel groups, the syrian population, they have genuinely won over large portions of this population. these have all been important moves. you can see this coincide with a few disturbing trends -- the increase in state support to al
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qaeda, turkey, qatar, saudi arabia, are all helping it gain ground in syria. u.s. backed rebels are helping al qaeda take ground. this is openly acknowledge. d. this is not nefarious. the reason the u.s. does it is we acknowledge that moderate rebels are so marginal at this point that they need -- they cannot operate in areas if al qaeda wants to deny them the ability to do so. charities that we worked so hard to close down post 9/11 are back in business. the sanctions regime at the united nations is fundamentally collapsing.d. this is not nefarious. all of this is going to create a
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very complex situation if, as i believe, isis ends up -- it's flame does not burn quite as bright in a few years. you have to understand, there are different jihadist actors. one has been playing off of this dramatic rise of isis. the way the isis has been able to capture our imaginations, and the imaginations of so many, like the san bernardino attackers. they have been able to capture the excitement of jihadist, especially young jihadist. they have been able to capture our imagination. not paying attention to how al qaeda is pivoting is something we will regret, and probably sooner, rather than later. >> with that, we will turn it over to start with some comments on his view of the paper.
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mr. ollivant: sure. i've really enjoyed reading this paper, which clearly laid out the distinction between the two groups in some interesting ways. we are used to thinking of these two groups as different, but i think we do not think very hard about why that is so. we know this is the islamic state, and they are a little more violent. we know there is al qaeda, and we have hated them for so long. it is almost like we are ready
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for something new. we have not thought about the distinctions, and i think that is something that this report does very well. if i could lay it out even more simply than the report does, in very short hand -- of course was shorthand, you lose some nuance -- a shorthand way of thinking about this is is the islamic revolution, the caliphate, now or later? for al qaeda, it is not yet time to bring about the full islamic revolution. the people are not ready. they still live in relative content in the not truly islamic state, which means everything from malaysia to saudi arabia. they are not ready. there needs to be a period of education, teaching, and preparing not only the people, but the cadre, for what is to come. in the meantime, there are these far enemies who need to be dealt with and taught a lesson. as september 11 demonstrated. that is their theory of the case
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-- it is not yet time. the islamic state thinks, it is time. now is when we need to bring about this revolution, and we now see what they consider that to be. we see the islamic state, as they set it up in the territory they have captured in iraq and syria, and spreading throughout the world. both in the affiliates and the lone wolves -- whether in paris, san bernardino, or where have you. i appreciate this paper bringing it to the for and allowing me to think about it in that way. the second point that the paper really brings out is something that daveed emphasized at the end. i guess i will emphasize it a little more. the way they put it in the paper is that because of the existence of the islamic state, isil, or daesh, al qaeda in general is
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able to enjoy state support. in syria, they explicitly get -- i do not think this is a matter -- this is well known in open, classified materials. they get money from turkey. if you ask them, they say, no, we are supporting the rebel groups, we are giving to the coalition, and the fact that there happens to be a big affiliate in the middle of it is a regrettable necessity. the combination of the syrian revolution, and the fact that you have now isil, metaphorically speaking, to al qaeda's right, as the new definer of what true evil is has now made it possible for people to talk about al qaeda, and deal with al qaeda in ways that would have been unthinkable in early parts of the last decade. the day went prominent figures would publicly talk -- maybe we can reconcile with pieces of this al qaeda affiliate. you cannot imagine people saying that in 2003-2004. it would have been unthinkable.
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now we have this. an al qaeda group which may or may not still be a more significant long-term threat that is now able to get state support, which daveed points out. the sanctions regime is showing weakness. and, just in the public sphere is talked about in a much different way, almost as an afterthought. oh, yeah, there is an al qaeda affiliate in the middle of them. again, unthinkable to think about talking about an al qaeda affiliate in these terms. you have to ask the question, last i checked -- until a few days ago -- isil had not attacked the homeland of the united states. even now, we certainly regret it happened in san bernardino, but
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it is qualitatively different event and what we happen a 9/11. when did a group that attacked our homeland somehow become moderate when compared to a group that is evil, never really has, or not in the same sense. third, there was one thing i did not see indy report that i would like daveed to respond to. i did not see the report treat the distinction, in the way that two groups treat the arabs. that is something that has always been qualitatively different about the two groups, starting with the founders. osama bin laden, in my understanding, at least, always had a soft spot for the shiite -- certainly viewed them as mistaken, heretics, but never talked about exterminating them, subjugating them. they weren't issue, and sometimes they had regrettable political views, and had to be lectured. of course, they were with iran, and that was a problem, but they were seen as a group of heretics.
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that needed to be killed, or at the very least, put in a very subordinate status. i think that has been reflected in the approach by the two groups. i did not see that in the paper, and would be interested in daveed's thoughts on that. as the paper brings out, there are two responses that al qaeda could have to the rise of isil. do they try to mimic them and increase their visibility, their approach. do they essentially agreed that maybe we do need to accelerate the revolution? or do they double down -- slow and steady wins the race. we are the tortoise, not the hare. i think a lot of this depends on where is the islamic state in two years? al qaeda may be forced to mimic them more. where, on the other hand, if they were able to remove their abilities to hold the territory,
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and there is no longer an islamic state existing in the north of iraq and east of syria, then al qaeda's longer-term strategy may look different. i guess i will stop there now. >> thank you for the report. i thought it was very generous to al qaeda, maybe too generous.
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for one thing, if you look at the fighters of isis and al qaeda, they go back and forth. a lot of influence with isis. in terms of ideology, the difference is practically none. to say things like al qaeda avoids frightening or alienating local populations -- for someone who grew up in the arab world, we do not have much more
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generous political parties who care about thes population. we do not have the kind of democracy that we want. we have terrorism springing and every part of the world. another thing is i would have liked the report to have discussed the brutality between the two groups. it is a huge problem that fighters go back and forth. they started executing whoever changes camps, basically. there have been executions of hundreds and hundreds of fighters. it is documented. it is always documented. by al qaeda, as well as isis. it is creating such paranoia, but actually, at one point, isis executed four of its premieres,
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and 100 people at one point. there is no shortage. but we talk about caring about the population, we really are not -- we have to make an enormous distinction between, in the west, what we think about, when we talk about caring for the populations, public support, and the arab world, which again, the bar is so low that maybe an ant can crawl under it, it is so low. we are talking about maybe the best case scenario -- may be the taliban. do you consider the taliban and organization that cares about the population? i wouldn't.
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i think there is the violence -- public support is relevant. what we talk about public support, we cannot take the leaders words. we are talking about night and day difference is. another thing is the organic -- i really have an issue with this. prewar in syria -- actually, everywhere in the arab world, the practices that al qaeda has
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cannot be called organic in anywhere except for maybe saudi arabia. it is not organic to any other place. it is planted, supported. the same thing -- this is really available. pretty much all of the leadership are saudis.
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some of them are professors at saudi universities. some of them are current or former officials. saudi institute at a clause in the army, where you can be paid, take a vacation, and go fight in syria. if you are killed in syria, you are a martyr.
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this is state-supported, state direct it. it is not so much organic. this is very active. i will stop here. mr. bergen: we will turn it back to daveed to respond, perhaps starting with the question, are these two really distinct groups? or, they cannot truly have a distinct strategy? mr. gartenstein-ross: they are definitely distinct groups. nadia supported that, by saying that the way that people defected from one group to another can be killed. they definitely see the distinction. i agree with everything that nadia said. it is possible that we do not do enough in the report to emphasize al qaeda's brutality, but we start with the premise that al qaeda is an incredibly brutal organization, and unlike isis, keeps a chunk of its brutality off camera. i do not think there is a moral distinction between them that al qaeda is actually organic, or actually avoiding brutality. rather, it is a question of what they are trying to craft. i would rather talk about the organic question than the brutality question. i believe that language we use is that al qaeda, unlike isis,
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likes to make itself appear that it is an organic part of the population. i agree, it is not. you can look into two things. one is the writing of its ideologues. the second is the expansion of the actual practice. in tunisia and libya -- i think tunisia is a purer example -- they used front groups. there would be this openness. they made a point. don't be too hard on the population. these dictators have made sure that they do not understand true islam. you have to lean them. to be clear, this is al qaeda talking. i'm not giving theological credence to them. nadia: how do you explain the killing of two politicians with this rhetoric? mr. gartenstein-ross: again, there are multiple ways that one can explain it. she's talking about the assassination of two tunisian politicians that ended up to the disbanding of the organization. there are two possible ways. there is something that i've not been able to get at. was that organized from the top or out of local initiative? either way, i do not think it fundamentally changes things. number one, i think that does represent the true face of the group. even the fact that the assassination of the politicians, another thing they have been engaged in is violence to enforce religious norms, attacking hotel bars, christians, secularists.
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these were attacks that had sanctioned at top levels. the use violence, but the same time, they were making it seem organic. what they mean by lean yet is way different than what we mean by lean yet. they are leiniet if they kill a few hundred people. you think of all the other people they could have killed instead. what they are talking about is the way it will come across to the population. to them, isis goes beyond what we can consider leniency. al qaeda has a very quixotic view of what they mean to be lenient. in terms of practice, the front group that they put up did a lot of work. i visited tunis, neighborhoods that were normally under served by the state. people have the perception, these are good guys.
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that is how they appear organic. other faces are carrying out different types of violence. to them, they are the average man on the street. if the average man does not care about a couple of politicians being killed, to them, they have been lean yet and organic. with respect to brutality, i want to say a specific word about that. and looking at their actions, al qaeda versus isis, the way i described the two of them with respect to religious minorities -- we will get to the shiites in a moment -- is hard genocide versus off genocide. hard genocide is isis. they slaughtered men in mass and enslaved women. that is pretty straight out of any sort of genocide playbook. in contrast, al qaeda had a program that was definitely genocidal. genocide defined as attempt to
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destroy the group, in whole, or part. they had people sign of an invasion their faith, and put them in reorganization classes. this is not the -- round them up, slaughter them, and slave them. instead, it is a softer genocide. it is still a genocidal policy. in some cases, there are documented cases, where they try to employ brutality, and were dissatisfied when it got caught on camera. one example is yemen, where they went into a hospital, and slaughter people, only to find it came up on the internet. they apologized for it, said it was a rogue commander.
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i think a more likely explanation is they were ok with it until it turned up on the internet. these are two different approaches to violence. i would go back to the correspondent in 2005. isis' predecessor was busy brutalizing the population. the leader wrote them a letter telling them not to do that. he made the point, couldn't you just shoot them rather than cut their heads off? to me, that is a lot about their strategy. al qaeda is ok with them being dead, and keeping the reputation relatively high. i think that doug -- doug asked
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about shiism. it is a great point, and a great distinction. al qaeda's approach to shiites there is. -- varies. in the guidelines for jihad, it is talked about how you must avoid unnecessary conflict in order to not harm the reputation, but at the same time, in theaters where they have a bigger role, they have been extraordinarily anti-shiite.
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you look at yemen where you have houthis shiite backed by iran. i went back through a trove of things posted online under a pseudonym. it is extraordinarily anti-shiite. it was surprising at the time because it resonated less with where al qaeda had taken himself. he described the shiites as the main enemy of the muslims. i do get with situational for what they face fear they do not have a consistent approach, but in general, i think al qaeda's outlook is, do not cause
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unnecessary conflicts because it can hurt your reputation. where you can really benefit from it, like in yemen, they are anti-shiite. also, doug's point about time -- i agree with them entirely that isis' view is caliphate now, al qaeda's view is the time is not right. in preparing the population, al qaeda has been concentrating on this progressive destabilization. they understand that destabilize areas play to their benefit. assuming isis does not usurp
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them, it plays to al qaeda's benefit. even in places with a big al qaeda presence, including somalia, yemen, northern mali, syria -- areas where you have lack of state capacity, violence on the ground. i think part of the longer-term plan -- i think they believe that time is not on the side of the state. not only is the population restless, but there are factors that make it difficult to govern -- climate change, though bin laden did put up a message that focuses on climate change. all of these things are things that make it harder to govern as a state. the more destabilization there is, the harder it is for the u.s. and the west to do what they have done over time, which is the lack of strategy. the al qaeda backed islamic state popped up in mali. the french whacked it down. to them, if you have enough destabilization, and they built the infrastructure, preparing places like yemen and syria, to them, they will be in this very complex situation
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>> a huge reason for the expansion.
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heard the last of a cute. it is such an infrastructure for this. islamic group either. ebay is expansionist. say they will be detailed in this. that we will have perfect his is not islamic. that is anti-profit pack -- practices as long -- islam. urging muslims to go and expand. if you want to go to be a true muslim, to say there is a business to is that expansionist and it is not possible, it is part of the dna. i'm sure all of you have seen the famous obama anger
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.ranslator she is my translator. were that strategy is that this will not back them down. >> front as a panel, the paper draws out that the best islamic state does not have a tactical agreement with al qaeda. you said that the betrayal of
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ideology. i am wondering if your paper and the way you presented it appears to suggest that you think al qaeda has this engaged a new branding strategy, not actually using -- as we understood it before? is the islamic state analyzing any correct way? is that a political stab at disrupting al qaeda? for his al qaeda losing the ability or nature -- >> that is a great question. i do not think there is any objective answer as to how well it is believed. this specific argument that david is referring to, ideological argument, that isis -- failure to immediately -- not actually following their ideology as it should be practiced in its purest form. this has always been a debate amongst jihadist scholars. some arguing that you need to implement -- that will fail. if you introduce it to the population slowly, instead of the more pragmatic approach, it can point to things like in the car on, you have three different verses dealing with alcohol. there are verses that you cannot pray while drunk and that it was discouraged, then eventually banned. within the islamic tradition, you have areas in which -- implemented or religious laws implemented slowly over time. i think they need it, but it is the threat of slower implementation has always been there within al qaeda. not to say that they have always embraced it. we always had that discussion with people favoring pragmatism, and others taking a hard view. isis obviously takes the hard line view. >> i feel like the limits of this pragmatism is that with all political, islamic movements, he really sounds fascist. there is absolutely no imagination that somebody could be introduced to the -- and say i do not want to believe. it is not possible. you either see the light as they have, or you need to be killed. you are completely out of humanity, as far as we are concerned. this is the limit of the pragmatism, let's just convince them and convincing the fire happened through arguments. you do not have the choice to say we will find under the
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belief. sometimes financial, al qaeda is a nation that is investing in services. the family of arab states providing services for the population is a huge reason for the expansion. another thing, we have not heard -- there is an infrastructure for this thought. this is the expansionist. you cannot say we are going to be contained in this area with a prophetic islam. that is not islamic, that is completely untying how the proper practices in the koran. there are so many verses you cannot compete with. urging muslims to go and expand. to say that there is a political -- al qaeda that is not expansionist, it is not possible. it is part of the dna. >> i am sure all of you have seen the famous obama angry translator sketch. obama says -- it is one of the key and peele sketch. when i say that al qaeda is pragmatic, she points out that that does not actually means pragmatic. i agree with you. i will just say, i used pragmatic, this is within the jihadist consolation, which is not pragmatic anyway that any of us think it is. it is pragmatic with the goal of setting up religious through a topic -- totalitarian state. >> i am thinking about it on stage, as i hear this conversation, it is interesting to me that these debates are going on within these groups and are taking very seriously. it does seem to some extent, the anti-coalition has bought into this. the 65 member coalition, the u.s., the west, the gulf states by this to some extentis. il -- isil is a different thing and a different animal than -- >> are they buying or selling this? >> let's say the coalition as a whole is buying this. when i think about the
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alternative coalition, the russians, iranians, iraqis, syrian reteam, they are not buying it. they seem to be colorblind in this range. sunni, jihadist -- isil, they are all one in the same. it certainly is politically advantageous for all of these groups. what you really believe in what is politically advantageous can be distinguished as bland. it is easy to believe something that is politically advantageous for you. obviously, it is politically advantageous for those that support the assad regime. and those closer to the assad regime is closer to isis. i think there is also some genuine belief. isil, potato, there is no question between these two alternative coalitions that are now both actively engaging isil and syria. i think it is a phenomenal -- to me, there is merit to both coalition views. >> on one hand, i think it is important to recognize the distinction between is isil and al qaeda. not because al qaeda is moderate, these are actual figures and if you treat them as though they are one, you cannot take advantage. we tend to not do a good job of exploiting them. syria could not. there will be some areas where we actually did so covertly that we do not know about right now. i argue that they did a great job. that is the merit of our coalition view. the flip side, there is a second area of merit to the u.s. coalition view. it recognizes that not everyone who allies does so because they
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are extremists. it would be so out of pragmatism and that is accurate. i think that is important because you when i want to treat the fsa as though they are -- you definitely want to drive a wedge between them. the flip side is, i think that has nadia articulated, both isis and al qaeda both of -- have expansionist, imperialist visions that do not have limitations. it is not necessarily shared about all of the ranks. -- throughout all of the ranks. just as i did research in tunisia, it was obvious that there were guys who had no idea they were part of al qaeda. number two, secondly, not all of them would agree with the entirety of the vision. that being said, i think whether the leadership is able to harness the organization to
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shorten their strategy is what matters. that is where i would very much credit the russian-iranian view. they are taking seriously what these organizations believe. i think to some extent, when you look at a lot of the ways in which these groups are interpreted, hard-line sovereignty groups being framed with groups we can work with -- giving these interviews and talking about how we want to set up a state in syria and do it in coordination with all of the other organizations. i do not think people are buying it. for other groups like assad, you can find plenty of people who buy into that argument. we are stopping at what they are saying in a selective platform,
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in not understanding the other layers of thought, which nadia is talking about. this discussion has been going on for a while, does -- do religious ideas matter? they absolutely do. we cannot say that this religion is bad, fundamentally, the reason why these guys take this debate so seriously, is because they actually believe this is an obligation. you have to understand it from the perspective, because if you do not, you can be full or miss opportunities. it is always worth understanding the enemy and understanding that enemy through their own worldview. if we decide because we do not
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want to do that, we are not fundamentally not going to understand groups like isis. i think often, we handcuff ourselves in that way. >> i would like to get the answer to what i think is everyone's biggest question from all three of you. can isis disrupt the al qaeda network and become the single dominant port in the jihadist movement? are we stuck in a period where they will come back -- combat and will not be able to see what we see at the moment with isis and where al qaeda is going to reassert himself -- themselves in about 10 years? >> since the odds are against isil, they could. it is a handicap against it. the reason why i think odds are against, the key -- you have a very strong
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committed, quorum that buys into the al qaeda network and they all benefit from being a part of this network. things like a change that could be will be sawing egypt -- what we saw in egypt and ultimately flipped over to isis. egyptian counterterrorism authorities went after their leadership relentlessly in 2014. basically killing off al qaeda or injuring the al qaeda loyalists so that the pro-isis guys remains. -- for example, in somalia, in terms of security services, they've been ruthlessly going after pro-isis to make sure they do not have that competition emerge. you can have this emerge where it passes by al qaeda's ability to keep the network together. at which point, the odds of isis goes way up.
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i say it is against it -- >> events that would throw it up? >> not necessarily, i do not think one person -- a couple of competitions would do it. very quick points, if you look at al qaeda today, it is probably stronger than it was before bin laden died. the control of continuous territory in human -- yemen, the controlled significant territory in syria. if you look at it from al qaeda, does looking at their power on april 30 2011 versus today, the amount of growth they have experienced is tremendous. >> we have to take it back, the
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international community is going after the fruit and keeping the tree. we need to water it -- we have massive efforts and the ideology that produces -- if you touch the dowa efforts to spread very conservative form of islam, you will be seen as anti-islamic. the truth is, this very conservative -- i was watching cnn this morning, and the shooter in california was described as someone who took
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his religion very seriously. unless we go for the dowa, the ideology that has not yet combined with a group, but it is inevitable. we have to put this in the context geopolitical he in the middle east, you have two powers, iran and saudi, they are desperate to eliminate the iranian influence, and both of them are investing everything in asserting their dominance. the populations are paying for it. this is almost in existential fight for the sunnis. because of that, i would not be surprised after a year we see a complete emergence. there is a mac -- massive effort to reconcile the two groups. i would not be surprised if they are reconciled in a few years. >> just to play off of that, i
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think it is entirely likely that al qaeda regains its prominence in the next few years. not because of its growth, but because i sold -- isil has too many enemies. they cannot stand against all of these people and we perhaps have not had the most substantive year and fighting isis. the russian and french are being incredibly serious about this. we seemed to have stepped up our game. i think the preponderance of force that is, a raid against isil, eventually the incompetence that has been mistreated this past year, it cannot continue. my question would be, is there -- is this subject to empirical evidence? if isil having declared the -- in two or 35 years, no longer
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holds to reign in iraq or syria, will their members say aq was right? we somehow misled -- ms. read the scriptures -- miss read the scriptures. is the subject -- is this falsifiable? >> i think the answer is yes in a complex way. there is an ideological way for which it is falsifiable. they will have some explaining to do because that is not supposed to happen. the other way is, basically what happened with al qaeda in iraq.
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al qaeda in iraq was known for its brutality. as they lost around, former members themselves got brutalized. humiliated, executed, what happened to them was every bit as grisly as much as what they inflicted on the population. you already see this happening to isis members, you can find it on youtube. it is not well known because isis is not as exposed as isis supporters. >> or publicity. >> majority of the people do not like isis. i'm not talking about in the theater, where you have bloodthirsty revenge killings
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going on. what i'm saying is, eventually, when of the reasons al qaeda in iraq turned toxic on the population turned against it and their members were being killed. its brutality turned from this symbol of strength to a symbol of how it is overplayed. part of it is ideological arguement would be -- it was clearly to her the best early. the other would be a visceral reaction to see what happens to people who had been a part of crisis which would invalidate the aq process. >> we have a question up front here. >> thank you, mark from george mason university. thank you for such an interesting presentation. my question to you is, how many holes should we regard from this pledges allegiance to groups outside of syria and iraq? whether it is africa or the middle east? are they subordinating themselves to isil's authority,
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or are they more technical submissions to the they get something from this? reason i ask, ultimately, is it possible that we might see some of these groups do to isil what isil did to al qaeda? after originally eating a part of it, thank you. >> i think it is a phenomenal question. the answer depends on the group. some cases, there is a clear subordination. number one, you have the pledge. second, is the pledge accepted? some cases, it has not. tunisian groups have played --
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pledged, but some have not. third, look at isil leadership. libya, is isil's strongest hub -- whose state ground in libya to have a command of control hub in such a place. the group that is unlikely -- likeliest would be boko hoaram, a group that tends to be difficult to control. isil weakens, then you get into the question, the same that people have been debating about. as central leadership weakens , and the affiliate starts acting out ways that defy it, that could provoke organizations for a tailspin. in al qaeda's case has dealt
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with that for a number of years. you can see the implementation of their strategic plans. you can see, through careful readings of letters in northern mali this attempt from , leadership in the region to execute strategy in accordance with the issues of the leadership in south asia and now spread out. in places like mn and syria. at any rate, you see these attempts throughout the network. the question is, aq has dealt with years of pressure upon them. isis has not been tested the same way. one of the key questions, with respect to your observation, how do they respond to pressure? do they keep things intact? or do they end up going into a tailspin because they do not expect pressure to have the effect that it does?
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>> do either of you have comments? >> i would say, that on page 25, there is a wonderful table showing which groups have pledged allegiance to isis and which groups have actually accepted the pledge. out here? >> american university, annabelle. thank you for the discussion. something nadia said, from my understanding, is saudi arabia the mothership? and here we are just focusing on the little actors, the ones actually doing the brutality. but the money, thoughts, ideas are all coming from saudi arabia? if that is the case, does the international community need to focus on that and say, finally
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have the balls to stop getting oil and giving you money, is that what it is going to take to end it? this way it will never end. we will just keep going after one fruit after another. >> this is a tricky issue. what the islamic state forces children to learn in its schools is the weddings. the curriculum is enforced in areas under isis control. more than an agreement and -- agreement in ideology, it is a match. the report compared isis to other revolutionary -- i think the comparisons should be between them and the journey of mohammed abdullah because that
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is actually who they really aspire to. this is not that simple. saudi arabia is an ally and some people have made the argument that it is not the people themselves, it is maybe 5000 princes, some of them have stronger alliances with the ideology, so they support it. it is not so black and white. for those that argue that it is not so black and white, why is it that when a liberal speaks one sentence outline, he is cut like this? you have millions and millions of dollars invested in islamic schools and mosques, that basically perpetuate hate and violence. honestly, turn on any arabic tv you would not believe the , excitement against the west and the hate. stop giving us all of this hate. stop turning people into killing
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machines. there is definitely an enormous role for them to play. i do not see, personally, that we can tackle this without going to the source. at the same time, it is not the state itself, maybe people within the state. it is not so black and white. >> i have a question, because yesterday i was at the conference on turkey, and they were talking about the oil. they said it was not necessarily turkey that was processing the isis oil. it was people in turkey. basically, the state would take responsibility for helping isis financially. it is almost like saudi arabia and the other countries. it is almost like everybody
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knows the problem, but they are not talking about that and how saddam's daughter is helping isis. and she lives in jordan. we do not confront these people who are obviously a part of the problem. is there any plan coming up to actually confront the problem, our allies? i would like to really address this, because once i think people are clear about what america expects, maybe change can happen. >> this is a really important point. we have saudi arabia and particularly turkey in this conflict playing a similar role that say, pakistan did in the war in afghanistan. in which there is a clear way in which they are facilitating the fight and are part of the problem. in all of these cases, on the other hand there are other ways , in which they are assisting
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and which they are of relative utility. the wonderful term i learned for -- learned from my children is frenemy. i think this is how we need to approach these types of states. if saudi arabia is a problem, on the other hand, it is not a particularly stable state. that has this deal with the devil that the ruling family has made. what happens if we -- because of sanctions or something else we did to them, the state falls. the last thing we need is for one more unstable place in the middle east. that is the worst of all outcomes. we have our hands tied and we need -- we are going to have to deal with this. what you are talking about is important. speaking truthfully about what these states are doing, and not doing, having sunshine, having a
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name and shame policy that is appropriate, i think it is absolutely part of the solution. i think when we to stop using the term ally, frankly. >> i want to add to that. with respect to turkey, i see them as much more as a problem on the al qaeda side, then isis -- than the isis side. i think they are generally anti-isis, although they occasionally bomb the kurds. but are actively supporting al qaeda. i think turkey has taken an extraordinarily dark turn. extraordinarily dark. one of the problems for us, for the u.s., looking at the leverage over turkey, we need the airbase. but, i think we boxed ourselves
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in by thinking that we need them more than they need us. it is a lot like pakistan during the afghan-soviet war. at the end of the day, turkey has a mess on their border. it will affect them a lot sooner than it will affect the united states. we have a lot more leverage than we believe. part of what i think we need to do in recalibrating our role in the region and trying to deal with some of these issues that have been highlighted, is to recognize where we have the leverage, and not allow ourselves to see the u.s. as being dependent. with a few changes in our outlook we could do a lot more to get concession or name and shame without feeling like we are shooting ourselves in the foot in the process. >> when dealing with these groups and determining what their ideologies and strategies are, how likely they are to change over time? a co-author on this paper
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recently wrote an article contesting what has been a narrative that isis's attack in france was the change in strategy. you recently touched on this. could you explain a bit about that? isis' strategy then, has isis' strategy changed, perhaps not in that year, but before and after the airstrike campaign? >> the piece that he is referring to was written by the people sitting back there. i think they did a very thorough job of looking at the question of whether attacking the west, the terrorist attack, represents a change in isis' strategy. their conclusion is that it is not. if you look at the rhetoric of
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the organization, and reviews -- previous actions, including the january plot that was disrupted in belgium, they tried this before. is that said i think we are going , to see a change, not an strategy, but in resource allocation. i think isis is likely to invest proportionately more resources in external operations, terrorist attacks abroad. it has to maintain its image of having momentum. as it loses ground in iraq and syria, there will be challenges in doing so. they will first focus on shoring themselves up in places like sinai, libya, in tunisia, and trying to carry out attacks in the west to show that they have momentum. they have a social media type strategy.
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the strategy is to get people excited, and you keep getting them excited. it is a strategy of momentum. that is what is part of the strategy, key people coming in to replenish their ranks and draw relations to them. which is why we will have completely fake social media campaigns orchestrated by isis supporters and some major organization is going to defect to them. more people would say it and keep saying it and then shabab will issue a statement and say no, we are not defecting. that's happened in some cases where they got media outlets to report it. they had not yet put it in their videos. it was reported in multiple media outlets that they were in an isis affiliate. they never were, by isis was able to get a supporter from the organization to issue this
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release that made it look like it spoke for the whole organization. and they are clever in that way. they have a very momentum-based strategy. i think that the resource allocation will shift. they tried to attack the west -- they wanted to attack the west from the outset. they tried well before paris. the broader question is can these groups change is very interesting. the biggest debate is occurring, the brotherhood now the same as the brotherhood then, or has it become an electoral force. it is a very different organization. that is where i think the central debate is, about to what extent these organizations change over time. it is a question that we will be
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debating for some time to come. when we are talking about isis and al qaeda and if we have seen any changes, it has been small and mostly strategic. nadia: we can explain the social media momentum because the vast , majority of the recruits are in their 20's. this is in the organization that -- this is a generation that has an intimate relationship with computers. this is how they communicate. >> deborah, a freelance journalist. given the tenor of our presidential race right now and , the xenophobia coming out of the gop, has there been a noticeable uptick with isis and al qaeda? >> that is a good question.
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i have not seen it, but i also think it would not manifest itself yet. what you are talking about a relatively recent phenomenon over the past few months. generally, we would start to notice it based upon arrest and understanding the genesis of where people draw their inspiration or grievance from. i think it is possible, i just have not seen evidence for it so far, that there is a noticeable uptick. >> naida is talking about how there is so much hatred of the west in the media. in our media there is so much , hatred for muslims. nadia: a night and day difference. i watch fox, cnn, msnbc, really night and day.
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in the arab world, you have 80% of the population under 40, unemployed, disadvantaged, not allowed to legally participate in the government. these so-called allies put all of their energy, all of the media is controlled. you do not have free media like we do here. they deflect further own responsibility for the failure of the nation on the west. it is rampant that people think everything that goes wrong is because of the west. that is what they hear 24/7. >> up in front. >> thank you very much. this has been a great discussion, i love it. susan ross, a retired analyst.
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i am curious to know what you think of, well, i was watching the news this morning, and one of the speakers said that what is happening is world war iii, we are in world war iii. i wonder what you think about that? i also wonder, if we lose world world war iii and isis wins, what does our day to day life look like? >> it is a threat to the u.s. in this conflict and the international system. >> that analogy has been made up several times. sometimes world war iv, with the cold war being world war 3. i think it is possible, if it is world war iii, it is not the u.s. versus isis.
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what we are seeing is a broader phenomenon. i think al qaeda and isis are one subset of this phenomenon. which is the western states are really receiving, not so much and are part of north america, or europe. but in africa, middle east, places with weak governments. the state plays less of a role. violent non-fit actors are rising. i think we are seeing this global, broader phenomenon with al qaeda and isis if they are the most prominent subsets in which the state is being challenged. it is finding trans-nationalism is possible now in a way that it never was before. al qaeda was notable because it was the first global insurgency. and now trans-nationalism is very easy. we are also -- we are all so
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interconnected. you can find transactional operations not just with al qaeda and isis, but with anarchist movements, racialist movements, with groups dedicated to a set of ideals, like anonymous. let me be clear i am not saying , that all of these groups are the same, but they are the same with some state actors that are capable of functioning to some extent it differs from group to group, but to some extent, it is strategic level. the number of countries that have been ripped apart by violence is very high. from syria, mali, libya, iraq. the list goes on. i am not saying it is a failed state, but it is ripped apart in where you have a violent actor controlling large parts of the territory. i will look not just at al qaeda
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and isis, but this broader phenomenon. what we will have to do, i think it is two things. we are going to have to better navigate this world. isis is bad, al qaeda is bad, but some groups are either a little bit more ambiguous, or in some ways, a lot of them. we are going to have to navigate this world where not all relations are on a state to state level. the second thing is, the analogy i make a lot is between the disruptions in the political space and disruptions in the economic state. with start up industries coming in after -- over the course of 15 years and disrupting a legacy of another time. look at blockbuster video and suddenly netflix comes along and who needs blockbuster anymore? the analogy i use, the violence actor --t non-faked
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non-fit actors look a lot like startup competitors in the political organizing space. they are able to innovate quickly, they have a streamlined structure, they are able to make strategic shifts in a more rapid way. and a very bureacrazied states, like the u.s., they have trouble keeping up. we have tied ourselves in circles in respect to syria. they look at how these startups are beating them and they have adapted their structures in some ways. created in internal startups. thing that wee are going to have to do. agility is going to be important in this world that we are in the midst of the we have not adapted to yet. >> the last few questions? >> i am with the state department. i have a question with the
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muslim brotherhood. just some background, i am sure you know, but this is for benefit. else's there has been mixed reports about the role they play within isis. in 2012, there are videos online on youtube of them raising isis flags in the background while making political speeches. there is also -- >> are we talking about egypt? >> yes. and also a couple of days ago, saudi arabia has ordered that all books written by muslim brotherhood scholars be removed from the school system. this is also tying into the msa, i am not sure if you are familiar with that. that also has ties with the muslim brotherhood. is this something that we need to worry about in our universities on our side of the world? thank you.
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>> ok. the msa is the muslim student association. nadia: it is definitely a great thing to ban them, but saudi arabia has a lot more -- if you compare it to the writings of mohammed abdullah, you have isis versus the brotherhood. i think it is clear which one is more violent and more harmful. i think it is pretty important to go at the ideology of exclusion of owning the truth. this idea -- this egomaniac idea that i know what islam is and if you do not adhere to it, you have no human rights, you are to be butchered like an animal. we need education and values such as religion tolerance, ability to agree with one
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-- ability to deal with one another without violence, without coercion. how are we going to do this in an environment where these are the main mechanisms of influence by our own state? if you want to talk about tolerance and nonviolence, the state has to treat its own citizens with nonviolence. that is not the case. the state is not modeling what it really wants to see. you can not lead without leading by example. unless there is human rights and participation by the population, i do not see how this will end. number two, -- from within, we are aware of the limitations of what has been forced on us. we are monitoring a lot of, on social media, it starts off line and goes online. the debates from within are more audacious and bold than anything
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that i have seen in the west. people do not address the issue at all, it is radio active. people who live under islamic rule and are forced to adhere to one person's vision or another, it is a problem on a daily basis. for example, as a jordanian citizen, i can only, if at all, 70% of jordanian women do not inherit anything, i could inherit half. the list is so long about the abuse to my rights every day in the name of islam. it is a problem. if you look under islamic rule, we need to reform. the modern state came to europe, and it is really a past that took hundreds of years of abuses before the state recognized that it is not its place to enforce christianity on people.
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until it said, we need to give up this control, they didn't start having real states and human rights and participation. world, we would never have had that. the arab spring is the very first ever taking of power in over 1000 years. we are learning the hard way. definitely, the west can help in that debate, but they are not. >> let's get a closing statement and comments going down the line. >> for all the reasons we stated, this is a very important report that lays out the distinctions between these two groups. i do not think we should let the distinctions overwhelm the commonalities. at the end of the day, this is an internal cousins feud and the entire family is a problem. nadia: i would conclude about
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the reports, i like the section about tunisia and how dowa efforts can start the seeds of al qaeda in a relatively liberal place like tunisia. so we need to focus on the ideas , and the spread of the legal ideas before they become actual, physical violence. >> as you all noticed, this has unusual because of all the terrible things happening in the world. let me first start by apologizing. i misread the invitation before i set my schedule for the day. i am sorry i showed up late. normally, you do not begin a closing statement with an apology. this is an exception. first of all, i really want to thank the people we have worked with, jason frtiz and bridget who did a phenomenal job with the reports.
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i want to thank the institution for publishing it. this is a phenomenal institution , and we are thrilled to have our report associated with it. thank you, david for moderating this panel. this is a panel i respect deeply, doug and nadia. overall, i would take this back to where i started. period in ak at this couple of years, we will look at it as a period of missed opportunities. of the key things we are missing. -- describing isis as a blessing in disguise and saying they were able to clarify who the true
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shiites war and who the true -- were and who the true muslims were. we need to pay attention because in the past we have not, they laid out their blueprint for societies like tunisia and we do not pay attention to that. then we end up overlooking opportunities to stop their plans from coming to for titian. -- fruition. >> thank you. [applause] on c-span, "washington journal" is next. senator james lankford talks u.s. -- talking about policy in the middle east. in 45 minutes, a discussion for the nsa phone metadata collection program. we will talk to the former nasa general counsel. relatedlook at sports
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concussions. david savage, a supreme court reporter, reviews the high court's upcoming cases. >> this is now a federal terrorism investigation, led by the ei. the reason for that is the investigation so far has developed indications of riley radicalization by the killers. ♪ host: that is fbi director james komi commenting on the situation in san bernardino. he mentioned that so far the couple has not been attached to any terrorism network. linked to terrorism, it would be the deadliest attack on u.s. soil


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